MILWAUKEE — Marco Estrada smiled as he got the question he had expected all along.
What did it feel like to finally get your first win of the season?
It’s a version of a question Estrada has gotten all season long, as he’s failed to secure a win for one reason or another ever since his first start of the season back on April 21. There was relief in his realization that he never had to hear those questions again, at least for the rest of the season. But Estrada understands better than anyone how long he’s gone without a win.
“I mean, jeez, it’s been five months and I don’t have a win,” Estrada said. “It’s just the way the game works. It feels amazing to have this win finally.”
Many of those potential wins had been blundered in Milwaukee’s late innings, as Estrada was one of the starters hit badly by the Brewers’ bullpen struggles. But on Tuesday, everything went right for Estrada.
His defense behind was spectacular, as several Brewers made diving catches in the infield and the outfield. His offense did well, too, as Milwaukee put up five runs, most of which were in the late innings, to give him the run support he hadn’t seen all season. But it was the bullpen that was most relieving, as the Milwaukee relievers kept up their end of the bargain—a welcomed change from many of Estrada’s starts.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke wouldn’t let Estrada completely off the hook, noting the starter’s tendency to allow for one big inning, especially late, as one of the reasons he hadn’t tallied a win. But Roenicke couldn’t ignore the cruel twists of fate Estrada has seen this season.
“Good to get him a win,” Roenicke said. “That was a really good outing. To go through a season and not have one, that’s not what you want to do.
“He’s had a lot of (bad luck).”
But on Tuesday night, in a 5-2 win over the Cubs, Estrada didn’t allow luck to even factor into the final decision. He finished his six-inning outing having allowed just one run, striking out nine, and allowing just two hits. It was, by far, one of his best outings of the season, a win that he said felt like his first major league victory.
And with the future of the rotation in question, it was a good time for Estrada to establish himself as a potential starter in the future, as Roenicke continues to evaluate his options in the rotation.
“I feel like I’ve done well, well enough to continue getting the opportunity to start,” Estrada said. “I’m not trying to overpower anybody, but if I can just give them innings, I think they’ll keep giving me the opportunity. I just have to keep working hard and more wins will come.”
But with the first one out of the way, Estrada could take a breath for one night, a huge weight off of his shoulders.